Interior Color: Gray
Number of Cylinders: 8
Drive Type: RWD
Options: Leather Seats
Number of Doors: 4
Exterior Color: Maroon
Bakersfield, California, United States
1948 Dodge Coronet limousine conversion done at the factory. $19,500 OBO. Leather interior, custom paint job. Beautiful car.
When people look back at today's automotive industry, what do you think they'll remember us for? The emergence of hybrids? Ever more expensive and exotic supercars? The dawn of the self-driving car? All likely scenarios, but so is the blurring of lines between one bodystyle and another, giving rise to hardtop convertible coupes and crossovers of every shape and size. But one bodystyle the North American auto industry has stayed largely away from in the past couple of decades is a car nose and chassis with a pickup bed.
It's a bodystyle immortalized by the Chevrolet El Camino, but with few exceptions, we haven't seen too many of these automotive platypuses in recent years on our turf. Subaru tried with the Baja and the low-volume Honda Ridgeline soldiers along largely unchanged, but the genre's biggest adherents are still Down Under, where ute versions of the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon live. With a few other examples scattered to the four corners of the earth, that's really about it. But if these spy shots are anything to go by, it looks like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles could be working to bring it back.
Spied undergoing testing in Michigan, what we appear to be looking at is a heavily disguised Fiat Strada being prepared - like the Fiat Ducato-based Ram ProMaster and the smaller Doblo-based ProMaster City - for Stateside duty as a Ram product. The Strada, for those unfamiliar, is a product of Fiat Automóveis in Brazil and is based on the Palio economy car. The nameplate has been around South America since 1996 and was originally designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro (long before Volkswagen monopolized his talents), and takes a more rugged approach in the form of the Strada Adventure.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced that it's looking into Chrysler Group's handling of a pair of recalls affecting roughly one million Ram pickup trucks. Reuters is reporting that the regulatory agency is focusing on the availability (or lack thereof) of parts and "poor communications" from the automaker in its investigation.
"Customers have been advised in accordance with the regulations governing recalls," Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne told Reuters via email. "We are continually replenishing our supply of replacement parts. Chrysler Group regrets any inconvenience our customers may have experienced."
NHTSA disagrees, arguing that the recalls, which affect 972,000 trucks from 2003 to 2012, are being delayed by the lack of parts.
The onslaught of news from Fiat Chrysler's layout of five-year plans continued with Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis this morning, including the unexpected announcement that SRT was coming back into the fold.
After just a few years existing as an independent entity within the Fiat Chrysler universe, an unceremonious press release hit in conjunction with today's lineup of announcements, saying "the SRT family of vehicles will be consolidated under the Dodge brand." Group CEO Sergio Marchionne thanked SRT headman Ralph Gilles for his dedication to the high-performance wing, calling out is efforts in expanding the vehicle lineup and including more customized models. He did not reference disappointing SRT Viper sales today, but we sense there's a bit of subtext.
With the SRT reunion at Dodge, it's appropriate that some of the most exciting product announcements for the next five years have to do with upcoming performance products. First out of the gate will be a refresh for that flagging Viper in 2015, which comes as little surprise.